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Use these credit cards to earn cash back at department stores

Summary

Check out our top picks for credit cards that offer cash back on department store purchases.

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If a large amount of your money goes toward clothing, shoes, cosmetics, appliances and other household items, you can most likely benefit from a credit card that offers rewards at department stores. However, with the Blue Cash Preferred® Card from American Express’ recent update – which removed its 3 percent bonus on U.S. department store purchases – there’s one less card that fits that criteria. (Note: If you applied for the Blue Cash Preferred card prior to May 9, 2019, you will continue to earn 3 percent cash back at U.S. department stores through July 31.)

Not to worry, though. There are still several cards that offer cash back at department stores. Read on to see our top picks.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Why it’s a good choice: Along with bonus cash back at U.S. supermarkets and U.S. gas stations, the Blue Cash Everyday card offers 2 percent cash back at select U.S. department stores.

Because we estimate that the average consumer spends $15,900 each year on food, gas, clothing and general purchases – you have the potential to earn approximately $410 in cash back during the first year of card membership.

Drawbacks: While the 2 percent bonus includes a variety major department stores, it does not include all department stores. Also, the bonus can only be earned on department stores located in the U.S.

See the full list of eligible stores here.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express

Rewards rate:

  • 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (up to $6,000 per year, then 1%)
  • 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and select U.S. department stores
  • 1% cash back general purchases
  • Terms apply

Introductory bonus:

  • $150 if you spend $1,000 in first 3 months
  • Terms apply

Annual fee: $0

Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend): $310

Chase Freedom®

Why it’s a good choice: Chase Freedom cardholders can earn 5 percent cash back on categories that rotate quarterly on up to $1,500 in combined purchases. All other purchases earn 1 percent cash back. In the past, bonus categories have included Chase Pay, Apple Pay, Lyft, internet and more.

To earn the bonus, cardholders much activate the category every quarter.

Drawbacks: Unlike Discover, which unveils its entire cash back calendar in advance every year, Chase releases its bonus categories on a quarter by quarter basis. So, while it is possible that Chase will offer a bonus at department stores some time during 2019, we won’t know for sure until the third and fourth bonus categories are released later this year.

Chase Freedom®

Rewards rate:

  • 5% cash back on rotating bonus categories that you must activate each quarter (up to $1,500 per quarter)
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Sign-up bonus:

  • $150 if you spend $500 in first 3 months

Annual fee: $0

Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend): $304

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Why it’s a good choice: The Chase Freedom Unlimited card allows cardholders to earn 3 percent cash back on up to $20,000 in purchases during the first year of card membership. All other purchases earn a generous flat rate of 1.5 percent cash back.

If you max out the $20,000 spend cap at department stores, you can earn a total of $600 in cash back on those purchases in the first year of card membership.

Drawbacks: Because the average consumer charges approximately $15,900 each year, it may be difficult to reach the $20,000 spend cap. That said, you can still earn $477 in cash back if you spend $15,900 in the first year.

Chase Freedom Unlimited®

Sign-up bonus:

  •  3% cash back on up to $20,000 in purchases in the first year

Rewards rate: 1.5% cash back on all other purchases

Annual fee: $0

Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend): $318

Citi® Double Cash Card

Why it’s a good choice: The Citi Double Cash Card gives cardholders 1 percent cash back on every purchase plus an additional 1 percent cash back when they pay their bill on time – for a total of 2 percent cash back on every purchase. Additionally, because there are no earning caps or restrictions, there is no limit on how much cash back you can earn.

The average consumer who spends $15,900 and pays their bill on time can earn $318 cash back each year.

Drawbacks: While there are no rewards earning caps and no limit on how much cash back you can earn, your rewards will expire if they are not used in 12 months.

Citi® Double Cash Card

Rewards rate: 

  • 1% cash back on general purchases
  • 1% additional cash back when you pay your bill on time

Sign-up bonus: None

Annual fee: $0

Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend): $318

Discover it® Cash Back

Why it’s a good choice: Similar to the Chase Freedom card, the Discover it® Cash Back card offers a 5 percent cash back bonus in categories that rotate quarterly, such as department stores, gas stations and restaurants. Cardholders must activate the bonus each quarter to receive 5 percent cash back, and the bonus is capped at $1,500 per quarter. All other purchases earn 1 percent cash back.

Drawbacks: Discover did not include the department store category in its cash back calendar this year. However, cardholders can earn the 5 percent bonus on up to $1,500 in combined purchases (upon enrollment) at Amazon.com, Target and Walmart.com in the fourth quarter of 2019.

Discover it® Cash Back

Rewards rate: 

  • 5% cash back on rotating categories quarterly on up to $1,500 in purchases after enrollment
  • 1% cash back on all other purchases

Sign-up bonus:

  •  Cashback Match – Discover will match all the cash you’ve earned at the end of your first year, automatically.

Annual fee: $0

Estimated yearly rewards value ($15,900 spend): $351

How about a retail credit card instead?

If you frequently shop at one particular store, such as Macy’s or Lowe’s, a retail credit card may be a better option for you. Along with offering special store discounts, retail cards offer rewards on purchases made at the store. Some retail cards also offer bonus rewards on everyday spend categories, such as gas and dining.

For example, the TJX Rewards Platinum Mastercard offers a 10 percent discount on your first store purchase, as well as 5 points per dollar at TJ Maxx brand stores and 1 point per dollar on all other purchases. The Macy’s American Express card, on the other hand, offers 3 points per dollar at restaurants, 2 points per dollar at gas stations and supermarkets and 1 point per dollar on everything else. Cardholders can also link their card to Plenti rewards to earn and use points at other retailers, such as AT&T, Exxon, Mobil, Chili’s, Rite Aid and more.

Keep in mind, though, that while retail credit cards usually don’t charge annual fees, they typically come with very high interest rates. So if you plan to use one, you should also plan to pay off your balance in full each month.

See related: Discover adds PayPal, Target and Walmart.com to its 2019 cash back calendarChase launches its cash back category for Q2 2019

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Published: May 15, 2019

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Credit Card Rate Report Updated: May 23rd, 2019
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